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Understanding human trafficking laws

When individuals think of criminal charges, they likely think of DUIs, drug charges and violent crimes such as assault and battery. There are some crimes that are not often discussed, however, this does not mean that these crimes do not affect individuals as victims and accused offenders. Take human trafficking for example. Residents in Iowa and elsewhere might view this as a crime of the past, but this crime still impacts individuals across the nation, resulting in serious criminal charges against defendants.

While slavery and involuntary servitude were eliminated with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, individuals are still being forced into service or labor and held against their will. Modern human trafficking impacts vulnerable populations, including minors and undocumented immigrants, the most and usually involves sex trade.

Human trafficking is defined by federal law which also establishes the penalties for the crime as well as any acts associated with it. The associated acts may include enticing or luring an individual to go to a place while intending to hold them against their will, kidnapping someone with the intent to hold them as a slave or sell them into slavery, transporting an individual that one knows will be sold into slavery, selling a person into servitude against their will, destructing, concealing, removing or confiscating passports or documents while intending to traffic an individual or restrict their ability to travel and profiting from such behavior.

The penalties for this crime can be rather harsh. In some cases, they could carry a potential life sentence. Depending on the details of the crime, it could result in a serious fine and a prison term of 20 years. Because the consequences are severe, it is important that defendants do not take these charges lightly. Understanding your legal rights is pertinent, and seeking legal guidance could help you establish a strong and aggressive criminal defense strategy.

Source:, "Human Trafficking and Slavery," accessed March 25, 2018

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